First things first. I save the PSD where the elfboy is separate from his rooftop. Then I flatten the image and save it as a new PSD. (I do this anytime there's any major flattening to be done. This is so that I can still go back and seperate out objects if I have to, but also so that I don't have to worry about accidently moving or deleting a crucial layer. By the time I'm finished with this piece, I'll have approximately four or five PSD files of the work at various stages.)
Once, I've made my new PSD, I duplicate the linework layer, and turn the bottom one off. (Again, this is mostly for "safety" reasons. My computer system is pretty stable for the most part, but the apartment building I used to live in had power outages quite often. And occasionally--very rarely--I can get Photoshop to hang. It was very annoying to work for a few hours and lose all that work, so I got in the habit of saving often. Which means I can't revert to saved if I really screw up. Hence the "safety" layers.) I turn the visible top layer from a "normal" layer to a "multiply" layer. This means that all the white goes transparent. (The opposite of this is "screen", where all the black goes transparent.) I do this so that I can colour under the lines on a different layer.
I've already decided that the background is going to be more painterly than the foreground. This separation of styles will help the foreground stay distinct. Because I've often painted some of my subjects in a general diffuse afternoon light, I decide that this time I'm going to go for more dramatic lighting--perhaps a sunset. So I make a new layer between the two line layers, and I put a gradient on it, going vertically. The top of the gradient is a deep purpley blue, and the bottom is a sorta yellowy gold. Not too yellowy, mind you, because I want to have clouds in the background too, and the brighter golds and apricots are reserved for their underbellies. Then I put in a second gradient; this time it's a blueish green fading to transparent, and starting at the bottom, instead of the top. This is because I've decided that there are a lot of copper roofs in my fantasy city, and aged and weathered copper is a green colour. Think of the Statue of Liberty or the roofs of the Canadian Parliament for real life examples of aged copper structures. This gradient serves as a base colour from which I work--any gaps in any of the layers will show the colours beneath it. I could paint semi-transparently if I wanted the base colours to shine through more. This also has the benefit of me not painting major structural elements in the picture on a purely white background and screwing up the lighting contrasts and relative colours.
|| Step 01: Scan + Background || How I Make A Digital Painting || Step 03: Sky, Stars, Clouds ||